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Spagglers and Mary Washington

A listener in Abilene, Texas, says that his Maryland relatives always referred to asparagus as spagglers, so he was shocked when he got to college and realized no one else knew what he was talking about. This vegetable goes by lots of other names...

Good Juju

Imagine a time when heroin was marketed for the whole family. It really happened! Also, how Twitter, M&M’s, and Hallmark cards got their names. Plus, restaurant slang, bad juju, having a wild hair, cutting to the quick, and use vs. utilize.

Naming Aspirin

Aspirin is now a generic drug, but it was once a brand-name product made by Bayer. It’s just one of many genericized trademarks, also known as proprietary eponyms, which includes not only aspirin, but kerosene, dry ice, and cellophane. This is...

Naming Heroin

Is it true that the drug heroin was once marketed to families? Yes! In the 1890’s, heroin, a substitute for morphine, was hailed as a tremendous help to patients with tuberculosis, a leading cause of death at the time. Heroin eased the...

black aspirin

black aspirin  n.— «I didn’t bother with the police that time just went round and counselled all of “em against it, offering plenty of “black aspirin” as medication should they need it.» —“Re: Dangerous...

black aspirin

black aspirin  n.— «If you drink water between drinks and then drinka hell of a lot before you go to bed, the hangover is minimised. Then lots of black aspirin [Coke] the next day.» —“What’s the definitive cure for a hangover...